Why Your Small Business Website May Benefit from a Creative Commons License

Why Your Small Business Website May Benefit from a Creative Commons License

What small business owner wouldn’t love to see a bit of content he or she put up on the web, or a marketing campaign he or she launched on YouTube become known around the world? Especially if that content could generate just the right amount of new business! Everyone likes the idea of their content being shared, but no one wants to see their content stolen. This post will discuss the ways your small business website may benefit from a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons explains what they do:

[Creative Commons is a] digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

You might be thinking, “but I have a copyright symbol in the footer of my website!” In fact, creative work is protected in the United States the moment it is created – it belongs in that instant to the author. But there is a lot more to copyrights and licensing than you might think. When you mark your website with the copyright symbol, as most small business owners do, you are reiterating in effect, that visitors to your site cannot use your content without your express permission. Adding a license to your content, or portions of your content, is a way to define what parts you are willing to share and under what circumstances. If that sharing leads to more business for you, you want to make sharing easy! A copyright, in effect, may have the opposite effect.

Social Sharing of Small Business Website Content

Just a side note – when I say sharing in this context, I am not referring to the share buttons used for social sharing of small business website content that link to social media and allow people to share your content on their social feeds. These types of shares actually belong to the social media site you connected your web site to; in this sense you “released” your ownership of that content in the specific form it takes when shared on the social media site. In terms of licensing, I’m talking about specific creative works of your own, from your site, that people may want to share in their entirety. Examples might include detailed, informative blog posts, infographics, tools or calculators you created, and apps that you authored.

When to Use a Creative Commons License

It’s not hard to determine when to use a Creative Commons license; if you are creating content online and want to see it shared outside of social media, you should probably license it. A Creative Commons license can be in helpful in a couple of ways: First, it provides you with a simple way to license the content so that the intended use is well documented, which protects your legal position. Second, a clearly stated license will offer reassurances to someone who may want to share your content, but would be unwilling to do so if your intentions about sharing are not clearly stated. If you have creations you want circulated on the web, where a thumbs up from someone else has more value than anything you could ever say about your own work, then you may want to use a Creative Commons license. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, once you select and apply a license, your newly licensed content will be included in the Creative Commons repository and can be searched, discovered, used, and shared by people who need content to share and are looking for exactly the type of content you have created! How much will it cost to have your content included? Creative Commons is free, but you have the opportunity to donate.

Which Creative Commons License You Should Choose

As with so many things where there are repercussions, the best answer is… it depends. Which Creative Commons license you should choose is determined by your intentions and situation. But don’t worry, CC has come up with a simple license picker to help you decide on the best license for your particular situation. If you get stuck, use the handy Creative Commons FAQ.

A Creative Commons license isn’t for everyone – but there are benefits in the right situation. If you need help understanding when and if your small business website may benefit from a Creative Commons license, or have other questions about your intellectual property, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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When Facebook Doesn’t “Like” Your Pot Shop Page…

Remember when news releases were the go-to method of publicizing events directly related to your business? These days when companies want to get the word out about corporate happenings, publish internal news, or inform their customers of specials or promotions, a faster and less cumbersome way to do it is on Facebook.

But if you’re in the pot business, you may want to try another platform.

Recently Facebook started shutting down the pages of legal marijuana businesses around the country, and Colorado’s cannabis retailers were captured in their net, along with legitimate medical dispensaries in other states.

While the targeted companies are properly licensed and compliant at the state and local level, it’s impossible for them to be federally compliant for one simple reason: cannabis is still illegal at the federal level. Facebook’s Community Standards preclude it from encouraging any kind of drug use, and a promotion or special on cannabis products advertised on the site can be interpreted as such.

In the Regulated Goods section of the Community Standards, it states that Facebook “prohibits any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana or firearms.”

It’s unclear why a business licensed by the state of Colorado and subject to its regulations could fall under the umbrella of “unauthorized dealers.”

Facebook hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about the decision, but issued a statement regarding it that read in part:

“In order to maintain a safe environment on Facebook, we have Community Standards that describe what is and is not allowed on the service,” the statement read. “Anyone can report content to us if they think it violates our standards. Our teams review these reports rapidly and will remove the content if there is a violation.”

Some of the biggest dispensary chains in Colorado had their pages deleted, including The Clinic, LivWell, Sweet Leaf, and The Green Solution. In certain cases when the dispensary appealed, some of the pages were reinstated without explanation.

A few business owners simply started over; they revamped the pages to make sure promotions or coupons that could be interpreted as advocating drug use didn’t appear on their site, thereby violating Facebook’s community standards. They lost the “likes” from the first round but simply encouraged their followers to re-click.

Last year, sales of legal marijuana rose 17 percent for a total annual intake of $5.4 billion. Current projections have 2016 on track to pull in $6.7 billion.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Be a Customer of Your Own Business

Two years ago, a study found that 81% of consumers perform research online before making a major purchase. That figure rose 20% from the previous year, and has likely continued to rise.

More and more people take a look online before even visiting a business. They want to be sure that they have what they are looking for, that the prices are reasonable, that the service is friendly, and ultimately that they are not wasting their time. This can be more nuanced depending on the type of business of course. For example, if you have a restaurant or bar, then people probably look online for your menu, prices, and maybe some reviews or photos of the place took get a better idea of the atmosphere. I know I do. These themes can still apply if you are selling goods from a home-based business or performing digital services too. Are your products or services of good quality? Do you have good customer service? What is the overall experience like?

For answers to all of these questions, people look online. So if you are trying to see what is going on in the minds of your potential customers, you should trying being a customer of your own business. Google your business name or some keywords a customer might use (preferably in a different web browser or at least signed out of any profiles you use and with all of your temporary internet data like cookies and history cleared—this way your results are less likely to be tainted by your own usage) and see what comes up. Is your website at the top? If it is that’s great, and you can move on to looking at your homepage. Is the key information someone needs readily available like phone number, location, a summary of what you do, etc.? Try to be critical, and this can open up areas that you can improve for your website or Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Beyond your own website in the Google search results, what else do you see? Are there Google Reviews for your business? Did Yelp or another review website show up? What about social media pages for your business like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? It’s important that you regularly take a look at what a new potential customer might see when searching for your business or others like yours.

Look and see if there are bad reviews out there, if your social media pages or website’s blog haven’t been updated for a while, or if there are other red flags concerning your business. These issues can make potential customers second-guess trying your business or even scare them away entirely. These insights can offer you key items available for enhancing your business’ online presence and marketing message to be sure that customers are having the kind of experience you want them to have.

If you’ve done all these things and are satisfied with the message and experience that your business is offering to the public online, then maybe it is time to start getting more feedback from clients. Try talking with regular customers or implementing a survey to see what people think your business could do better.

If you need legal advice on making a change to your business, or are ready to start a new business of your own, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Colorado’s “Facebook Law”

For many businesses trying to sort through applicants for an open position at their company, it has become routine to run a Google search of applicants to find out more about them. This can quickly lead to finding their Facebook or other social media account, but did you know that some employers have begun asking for applicants’ Facebook passwords during interviews to look at their activity? In Colorado, you could face serious legal liability for such actions.

Trying to find out as much as you can about an applicant or employee is understandable. For businesses both big and small, nobody wants to waste time, energy, and company resources bringing someone in for an interview that will not be a good fit, but a line must be drawn. Many workers feel their personal privacy is seriously invaded when employers go digging into their personal online accounts.

With these concerns in mind, several states have begun passing laws to combat this practice. In may of last year, Colorado passed C.R.S. § 8-2-127, a so-called “Facebook Law,” which restricts employers’ ability to get social media and other personal online account information from applicants or employees.

While running a Google search and pulling up any publicly available information about an applicant or employee is permissible under this law, employers cannot suggest, request, or require an applicant or employee to disclose means for accessing their personal accounts or services (this includes usernames and passwords). Under this law, you also cannot suggest, request, or require an applicant or employee to change their privacy settings (to make their accounts public for example) or to have them “add” the employer or someone acting on behalf of the employer to their friends list. If an employee or applicant refuses to comply with these kinds of actions from an employer, then it is unlawful to penalize or refuse to hire them because of their refusal.

There are a few exceptions to this law, but aside from allowing the employer to freely view publicly available information, they are pretty narrow. Other exceptions include investigations pertaining to compliance with financial laws and regulations and the unauthorized download of employer proprietary information to a personal web-based account or website.

If you would like to discuss this or other legal concerns related to your employees or the hiring process, be sure to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Lawyer, Elizabeth Lewis, 720-258-6647 or email her at Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com.

In housing news…

*** PLEASE NOTE, THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS OUTDATED. TO CONTACT THE LAW OFFICE OF EC LEWIS PC, PLEASE USE OUR CONTACT PAGE!***
So two exciting things happened in housing news recently. First, as reported on several media sites, a twitter user is being sued for defamation for tweeting that her apartment was moldy. Her landlord is stating that the apartment was not moldy and that the remark is causing him loss of business. Due to this, he is asking for damages that he has sustained.

This case shows a couple of things. First, just like with any other media, you have to make sure what you say is true. To purposely lie about a person or business can cause problems if it is found to affect their earning income or cause trauma to them. Second, this case may help determine what level of proof you need when you tweet something. If it is found that there is mold in her apartment, it may be harder for the landlord to get any money.

I’ll keep you updated as the case progresses – watch for more fun with the twitterville to come!

On a second note, our offices moved this weekend. Most people can’t say they are working in a place on the historic register. Now that we are at the D&F Clock Tower on 16th Street Mall, I can! Yes, the space is as small as it looks but for a small firm it will be great. I look forward to meeting with my clients at this great new location (and if I am lucky, watching the New Year fireworks from it)! The main site will be updated soon with the new address and pictures!